by Gwen Bortner | Training & Instruction
As we head into the last part of the year, how are you feeling about the goals you’ve set so far? Think about the goals you’ve reached: Did you feel a sense of fulfillment when you did so? Have they brought you closer to the vision you have for your future? What about the goals you didn’t reach—how has that affected your overall trajectory?
At this point in the year, we often start to feel a sense of dissatisfaction; like we started the year with all this enthusiasm and hope, but somewhere along the way we lost interest in the process. If you’re looking at the goals you set and wondering, “Why did I want to reach that in the first place?” you’re not alone! In fact, chances are the issue is that you’ve been setting the wrong types of goals in the first place.
4 Reasons You’ve Been Setting the Wrong Goals
1- You based your goal on other people’s expectations
How many times have you done something in your life just because someone else expected you to? We’ve all been there! For every decision from where to go to school, to the people we include in our wedding party, to the type of business we build—chances are, someone else had some influence on the choices we made for ourselves.
If you’re not feeling enthusiastic about your goals, chances are it’s because you based those goals on someone else’s ideas about what your business should be. Whether it is a family member, a coach, or even your employees—basing your goals on someone else’s expectations is a sure-fire way to lose your motivation on the way to achieving those goals.
2- You have been trying to “keep up with the Joneses.”
So many times, we think we have to achieve a certain level of sales or income, drive a certain type of car, or live in a certain neighborhood just to feel like we’ve “made it.” We see other people with businesses like ours, and we think we have to earn 6 figures because they do. The thing is, in all my work with clients, I know that having a 6-figure business (or even a 7-figure one) doesn’t at all guarantee happiness.
Something to consider: would you still want a 6-figure business if it meant you had to work 80 hours a week in order to maintain it? Is it worth it to you to earn all that money even if you don’t have time to enjoy any of it? Setting lofty goals for yourself can be very motivating, but if you’ve set a goal because you think your business has to look like someone else’s in order to be successful, it’s time to re-evaluate.
3- You stuck to what felt safe or reasonable based on what you’ve done so far.
Safe goals may be relatively easy to reach, but rarely are they motivating. If you’ve been setting goals based on what you’re fairly certain you can reach, it might be time to step outside your comfort zone and allow yourself the space to dream big.
It’s possible you’re just continuing to set incremental goals out of habit at this point. What if you threw away the instruction manual and thought about what you REALLY want, for life and business? What kinds of goals would you set then?
4- You’ve already invested in the process, so you didn’t want to change directions.
When you start a book, do you force yourself to finish it, even if it’s terrible? Or do you allow yourself to put it away, and pick up something more entertaining? In the grand scheme of things, whichever type of book reader you are doesn’t really matter, because you haven’t lost that much time to a bad book. However, this same type of attitude translates to your business as well.
Just because you start something doesn’t mean you have to finish it. That goes for adding a new product line, hiring new staff, exploring a new service option, and even building an entire business. If you’ve reached a point where something is no longer serving you or igniting your enthusiasm, it’s okay to stop. Sometimes a change in direction or even an entirely fresh start is just what you need to find success on your own terms.
If you think you may have been setting the wrong types of goals this year, the good news is, it’s never too late to change direction! And if you want to make sure to set better goals next year, I have a solution for that, too.
The Quarterly Tune-Up is my group coaching session designed to help you:
- Set the right goals for YOUR life and business
- Make a plan to check in on those goals and readjust as needed
- Tackle your To Dos and make consistent progress in your business
- Benefit from the wisdom and insight of other entrepreneurs who are in the thick of it right there with you.
If you’re ready to give yourself a great on-ramp next year or your next quarter, let’s chat about how the Quarterly Tune-Up can help you.
by Gwen Bortner | Operations, Tips & Tricks
There’s a reason we have the term “growing pains” in our collective vocabulary: growth can be painful! In your business, the periods that are the most stressful and overwhelming are usually also the periods where you experience the greatest growth and forward momentum. That’s why it’s even more important to have a clear strategy during those times, so that you can focus on one step at a time, keep your wits about you, and power through the painful period in order to come out victorious on the other side.
Though there are several reasons you might be experiencing growing pains in your business, in my work with entrepreneurs I’ve found that there is some common ground here. If you’ve experienced painful growth in these areas, know that you are not alone! This is an experience shared by almost everyone who has ever tried to run a business.
4 Ways Growth Can be Painful in Your Business
1- Hiring Your Team
When you hire another person in your business, the sense of overwhelm usually comes down to two factors: finances and operations. Whether it’s your first hire or your 15th, expanding your team can absolutely cause some growing pains in these areas.
- Finances: You may never feel like you’re “earning enough” in your business to pay someone else, but when most entrepreneurs get to the point of needing to hire someone else, it’s because they have simply hit a plateau. They cannot earn more money on their own, because they just can’t take on any additional workload. Hiring someone else—and paying them for that work—is often a financial hit at the beginning. Soon, however, you realize that by paying that person to take on some of your workload, you’ve freed yourself up to move to the next income level as a result. This is true of every new hire, so you should expect a little bit of financial strain each time, but it should resolve itself shortly.
- Operations: There’s a learning curve at the beginning of the hiring process every time. The new person needs to learn the steps and skills of their duties, but you also need to learn how to explain those steps and skills to another person. If you’ve been doing the work yourself, chances are you haven’t written out an onboarding process for that, because you just knew what to do all along. Now you’re going to have to invest some time up front to train your new hire; but once you’ve done that, having them take over that work is going to save you significant time in the future.
Hiring a new team member is painful because it requires an up-front investment of time and money, without an immediate return on that investment. However, if you’re playing the long game toward sustainable growth, this investment is absolutely worth it.
2- Unexpected Growth
Sometimes, growth just sneaks up on us out of nowhere. You may find yourself mentioned by a key influencer on social media, or your clients have all decided to refer new business your way at the same time, or perhaps you’ve just gained enough traction that you’re starting to see the natural momentum in your business increase.
Whatever the source of your unexpected growth, it can feel like one day you were just cruising along at ground level, and the next you’re expected to know how to fly at top speeds. It will take some time to reorganize your systems around this growth, and to make a plan for how to address it in the long-term. Having a reliable, repeatable procedure for tackling goals and To Dos is key to riding the waves of unexpected growth in your business.
3- An Influx of Clients
Remember a few months ago, when you were hoping you could round out your client roster a little more fully? Now, all of a sudden, you have more clients than you know how to manage! It can feel like this type of growth comes in surges, and often we don’t realize our maximum capacity for handling client work until we reach that capacity.
If you’re at this point, you have a few different options available to you:
- End your relationship with any clients who are not an ideal fit, in order to make space for new clients who are more aligned with the type of work you want to do or the type of working relationship you want with your clients.
- Hire new contractors or employees to help you manage the workload
- Raise your prices so that you can afford to work with fewer clients; those who aren’t able to retain your services at that price point will naturally fall off, and the ones who remain will allow you to work less but earn the same or more income.
While an unexpected influx of new clients can throw you for a loop at the start, it often provides an opportunity to shift or pivot your business to a point where you are earning more income or doing the type of work that is more in line with your desired workday.
4- A Significant Life Change
You may be a business owner, but you’re also a human being, and that means that occasionally the changes in your personal life are going to affect your business. Some of these life changes may include:
- Divorce, marriage, or new romantic partnership
- Becoming an “empty nester” for the first time
- Having a child
- Retirement for you or your spouse
- Moving or beginning life as a digital nomad
Having a system in place that you follow regularly in your business can mean that you are ready when these life changes arise. You can make a plan to give yourself time to transition through the change, to re-evaluate your goals, and move forward with your new life status and your business.
No matter the scenario, early preparation is the key for navigating unexpected changes in your life and business so that you can reduce the amount of overwhelm you feel in the moment and keep moving forward with a clear plan. If you’d like to be prepared for whatever life and business throw your way, I invite you to join me in my workshop, “3 Strategies to Minimize Overwhelm, Reduce Stress, & Produce Results that Matter.” We’ll work together to set you up with a system that you can follow any time your business gets overwhelming, so that you can get back to work and back on track to reach your goals.
Register now to join me for the workshop, happening September 9th from10:30 AM TO NOON PT.
I look forward to seeing you there!
by Gwen Bortner | Training & Instruction
How often do the following scenarios happen within your company on a regular basis?
- You spend too much time answering questions that should have been directed at someone else.
- Someone who works with your company has to send three different types of messages for one issue or question because they’re not sure where that message will be seen first.
- An emergency comes up and nobody quite knows who to tell about it or how.
- A situation that isn’t an emergency is treated like one because the communication on what defines an emergency wasn’t clear.
- Someone sends out a mass email to people who didn’t need to be included in that conversation or hits “reply all” to an email when only one person needed to see their response.
If any of those scenarios are happening in your company, then you are losing time and money because of communication problems. The best way to solve those problems is to establish a clear and efficient communication system for your company, and then teach everyone how to use it.
Choose the Method
Start by choosing an app – email, Slack, Asana, Trello, Google Hangouts, or whatever you prefer – and then make sure that everyone has a login for that app that is specific to your company. If you have already been using one of these apps, that’s probably the best one to use, because then you won’t have to train your people on how to use the technology, only on how to use it for communication.
If you haven’t used anything other than email, you may want to consider trying out a task management or “instant messaging” style of app to see how it works in your company. Think about the number of people who work for the company, the types of communication they will need to use, and which app supports both of those things and is within your desired price range.
The next step is to define a few key areas for communication:
- How you are going to use this app for communication
- When to use a different method of communication, if necessary
- The expectations you have for response time and working hours
- How you will organize the app into separate categories, channels, etc.
You need to outline these areas very clearly for everyone involved, and then hold people accountable for following these guidelines. When you hire a new person, give them access to the communication app and the guidelines for using it right away.
Everyone in your company needs access to certain information, but they don’t need access to every detail. When you establish categories or channels within your selected app, you can grant access to each channel for only the people who actually need that access.
Another part of this step is to grant access to certain people; in other words, to establish a chain of command. The customer service representative doesn’t need to email the CEO every time there’s a question they can’t answer, unless those are the only two employees in the whole company. If you’re spending too much time answering questions and putting out fires that other people should be able to handle, then make sure you establish a chain of command for communications, and hold people to that protocol.
It may take a little bit of time for everyone to adjust to a new protocol, but within about a month you should see improved results with clearer and more efficient communication all around. You set the standard by following the communication system yourself, and remind your employees and contractors when they step outside those guidelines. Pretty soon, your new system will flow smoothly and will help to streamline your business.
If communication isn’t your only system-wide problem, maybe you need a little more help and the support of other CEOS who are doing the work right alongside you. If that sounds like something you’d be interested in, click here to learn more about my Operations Engine mentoring program for CEOs who are ready to go to the next level in their business operations.
by Gwen Bortner | Tasks & Goals, Training & Instruction
How happy are you with the way you typically set goals for your business? Do you keep your goals once you’ve set them, or do you struggle to follow through? In my last post, I outlined the crucial first step in the goal-setting process: quarterly review. Today, I’m walking you through what to do once you’ve completed your review, and you’re ready to sit down and set your goals.
Most people are actually pretty bad at setting goals: they tend to default to one of two options, neither of which are great. The first option is to set a goal that is so easy to reach, that there’s no real challenge involved. Then they don’t end up seeing any real growth, because the goal wasn’t ambitious enough. With the other option, some folks set goals that are too ambitious, to the point where they’re almost impossible to reach. Then they get easily discouraged because they never feel like they’re getting anywhere. Most entrepreneurs fall into the second category, in my experience.
This is why it’s so important to look at real data before you set your goals, and then to make sure the goals you set are intentional and logical as well as aspirational.
Not One Goal, But Three: Good/Better/Best
Earlier in my career as an entrepreneur and CEO, I participated in Todd Herman’s 90-Day Year goal-setting program. During this time, I learned about the concept of good/better/best goals. I still use this process in my own goal-setting, and I encourage it for my clients as well.
In this type of goal, you have three levels:
- A good goal is one that would yield a satisfactory result, and reaching it isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility. With this type of goal, you should be able to reach it around 80-90% of the time, barring unforeseen circumstances. You should be willing to bet a thousand dollars on reaching this goal, but it shouldn’t be so easy that reaching it is just an absolute default guarantee.
- A better goal is something that will be a stretch, but also still possible. You should definitely feel like you’re pushing yourself to be able to reach this goal, but in the end, you should actually reach it between 40 and 50% of the time. This type of goal is possible, but not easy.
- A best goal is one where if you reached it, you would probably pass out from the excitement. It’s still feasible, but very unrealistic. Reaching a goal like this only happens 5-15% of the time, because several factors have to line up for you to hit that goal. (Note: This is where entrepreneurs often set their only goals, and that’s why they get discouraged because they almost never actually reach those goals.)
Set the Right Types of Goals
Using the data from your review, choose one to three areas of your business that you want to work on for the coming quarter. For each area, you’re going to set a good, better, and best goal.
Before you actually write down your goal, consider this: there are only two types of goals you can set, and you will want to be intentional about the type you choose. Activity goals are things you will do, while outcome goals are results you will see. For example, an activity goal is, “I will write a newsletter every week.” An outcome goal is, “My newsletter will have a 50% open rate every week.” You can control an activity goal, but you can’t fully control an outcome goal.
Both types of goals are valid, but when you’re setting your goals, it’s important to have at least one outcome goal that will positively influence your business. The outcome goal is often just about income, and it will be tied to activities, but the outcome is the goal you should reach for.
Think about it this way: if you set an activity goal, and you do the activity, what happens next? The outcome is uncertain, but if you do not see any positive results from your efforts, you’re stuck in a holding pattern. On the other hand, if you set an outcome goal, you will naturally change up the activities you try until you find the “magic formula” that yields the outcome you were after. You’ll be more likely to achieve success because you were pursuing an outcome rather than checking an activity off your To-Do list.
For each area, you identified to work on, set a good/better/best goal, and try to make sure that most of these are outcome goals.
Check-in: Do these goals feel right for you?
If you have three major outcome goals with good/better/best levels for each one, that’s a good place to start. However, it’s important to take a look at those goals and examine them with a critical eye. Can you reasonably work toward all three goals at one time? Will reaching those goals bring you the growth or stability you’re after in your business? Is it a stretch that will challenge you without overwhelming you? Do these goals line up with your vision and mission?
One final item to consider: Is there a goal that you need to set around your own behavior, that would move your business forward? Maybe you need to look at your finances every week, delegate more work and stay out of it, or thank a different employee for something specific every day. As the CEO of your company, nobody performs an annual review for you, so you’ve got to do it for yourself. Personal development should always be part of your goal-setting process, so while you’re listing your goals, make sure to pick one thing that you could be doing better and add it to the list.
Do you want some support in setting strong goals and holding yourself accountable for working toward them?
Let’s talk about how our Quarterly Tune-Up sessions may be the perfect fit to help you set your goals and keep with them.
Click here for more information to schedule a conversation with Gwen.
by Gwen Bortner | Leadership, Tips & Tricks
Do you struggle to make decisions for your life or business, because you never know if you’re making the “right” choice? The truth is, you may never know if you made THE “right choice” at the moment, and chances are there’s more than one option that could be right for you, depending on the circumstances. You don’t get to make two choices at once and test them against one another like a science experiment, so you have to just take a deep breath and choose the option that feels the most right and go forward from there.
Previously, I’ve talked about the biggest obstacles that hold you back from making a decision. Now, I want to give you some tips for narrowing down your choices and getting clear on the most right decision for you and your business, no matter what your options are.
How to Make Better Choices
Take Your Time
Things tend to feel very urgent in the moment. There’s a deadline looming, or you’re caught up in the idea that you’re going to miss some significant opportunity if you don’t figure out all the choices right now. In reality, we often create a false sense of urgency when we’re struggling with a decision, and it’s usually not even necessary. Opportunity does knock twice, no matter what people might tell you, and there is always another train to catch. Give yourself the time and mental space you need to make a decision because rushing through the process usually results in negative outcomes.
Whether you’re a “Star Trek” fan or not, chances are you’re at least a little familiar with the character Spock, who is from the planet Vulcan. The Vulcans are known for having eliminated their emotional responses to every situation through a rigorous system of meditation and a focus on logic. You may not be able to channel your inner Vulcan, but in many cases, an emotional response may be clouding your vision when making a decision. Take a few minutes to journal about the feelings associated with a decision, and it may bring a lot of clarity on why you’re feeling stuck. You shouldn’t discount your emotions entirely – after all, your “gut feeling” may be leading you in the right direction. However, you also don’t want to make decisions based solely on emotions, because they have the power to affect your judgment. Once you can identify what you’re feeling, it gets easier to separate yourself from that emotion and move forward with a decision that is rooted in logic.
Narrow Your Options
In your school days, if you had to take a multiple-choice test, the best strategy was to start by eliminating some of your options. Usually, those types of tests had at least one answer choice that was obviously wrong, if you just took the time to evaluate it. The same strategy can be applied to your decision-making; if you narrow down your options, you can make an easier decision based on what’s left over after you’ve eliminated the choices that are obviously wrong for you and your business.
If you’ve given yourself time and space, you’ve identified your feelings and balanced them with logic, and you’ve narrowed down your options, you can then make a decision knowing that you have thought through your options completely.
As an entrepreneur, you face many choices in all areas of your business every day. Sometimes it’s not clear which part of your business you should start with. Take the GEARS Assessment today to help you identify which area needs your attention before the others.